Old West History Archives

PONY EXPRESS

On April 3, 1860, the first Pony Express mail riders, traveling by horse and rider relay teams, simultaneously left St. Joseph, Missouri, and Sacramento, California. Ten days later, on April 13, the westbound rider and mail packet completed the approximately 1,800-mile journey and arrived in Sacramento, beating the eastbound packet’s arrival in St. Joseph by two days and setting a new standard for mail delivery.

Before the Pony Express a letter was delivered by ship or Butterfield Express, which could take from one to several months. So the ten day delivery was quite an improvement.

Unfortunately, as the Pony Express riders were riding east and west, they would come across men putting poles in the ground and stringing wire for the first transcontinental telegraph, which was completed in October 1861. With the transcontinental telegraph, there was no need for the Pony Express, and it ceased operations.

GOLIAD

We all know of the Texan’s battle cry of “Remember the Alamo” during their battle with Mexico. But there was a second part to that battle cry.

On this date back in 1836 Santa Anna’s army defeated a group of Texans at Goliad. When they surrendered he took 417 revolutionaries out and executed them.

His thinking was that an inexplicable act such as this would break the rebel’s spirit. Instead it inspired them, and the battle cry became “Remember the Alamo and Goliad!”

Less than a month later, Texan forces under General Sam Houston dealt a stunning blow to Santa Anna’s army in the Battle of San Jacinto, and Texas won its independence.

JIM BRIDGER BORN

On this date back in 1804 that great mountain man Jim Bridger was born.

At the age of 20 Jim headed west along the routes that Lewis and Clark had pioneered. At the age of 21 he was the first white to see the Great Salt Lake…Incidentally; he thought it was the Pacific Ocean.

Getting married to the daughter of a Flathead Indian Chief, he decided to settle down and started a trading post, founding Fort Bridger along the Oregon Trail in Wyoming.

At the age of 64 with eyesight failing and rheumatism, he retired in Westport, Missouri and died at the age of 76 on July 17, 1881.

NAMING OF SHOW LOW

I live in the northeastern part of Arizona in the White Mountains. The name of the town where I live is Show Low. How the name came about is a very interesting history.

To hear that story go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCJ4vUTc4sY

SO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO THE OLD WEST?

go back to the Old WestYou want to go back to the Old West? In searching some old files I came across the following information.  This is how it was at the end of the 1800’s.

  • The average life expectancy in the U.S. was forty-seven.
  • Only 14 percent of the homes in the U.S. had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of homes had a telephone.
  • There were only 8,000 cars in the U.S., and only 144 miles of paved roads.
  • The average wage in the U.S. was 22 cents an hour.
  • The average U.S. worker made between $200 and $400 per year.
  • More than 95 percent of all births in the U.S. took place at home.
  • Ninety percent of all U.S. physicians had no college education.  Instead, they attended medical schools, many of which were condemned in the press and by the government as “substandard.”
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month!  When they did they used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • The five leading causes of death in the U. S. were:
  1. Pneumonia and influenza
  2. Tuberculosis
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Heart disease
  5. Stroke
  • One in ten U.S. adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
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